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A Day Out at Half Moon Bay

From the best clam chowder outside New England to charming mom-and-pop shops and family-friendly sandy beaches, Half Moon Bay is a coastal paradise.

excerpted from article by Casey Gillespie, May 2021

Sams Chowder House lit up at night from Marin MagazinePhoto by Marc Fiorito

Half Moon Bay, or Spanishtown as it was once called, is only about an hour’s car ride away, but once you are there it feels like you have truly escaped to a seaside paradise. It is named for the stunning crescent-shaped harbor situated just north of town, and it’s home to the world-famous Mavericks (the huge swells that draw surfers from near and far in the winter months). During Prohibition, Half Moon Bay with its dense fog and veiled coves became a smuggler’s dream, drawing Canadian rumrunners, which might explain the collection of exceptional breweries and distilleries in the area. The historic downtown is still home to many vintage buildings and there is nary a chain or corporate store to be found on Main Street. Venture a little farther and you’ll find blissful luxury hotels and some of the best seafood in California. Here are a few stops that should not be missed.


Sam’s Chowder House

It would be a sin to visit Half Moon Bay and not stop here for a lobster roll and a bowl of chowder. Located right on the beach and often voted as having the best seafood around, this place is an institution — and for good reason. No reservations on the weekend (the wait is usually about an hour), but you won’t be sorry.